Don’t blame the rains, Laikipia land invasion is criminal

Hundreds of cattle being moved from Sosian Ranch in Laikipia County on, March 6, 2017. PHOTO: KIPSANG JOSEPH

The arrest of at least 379 herders in Laikipia County following the slaying of rancher Tristan Voorspuy and yesterday’s arrest of Laikipia North Member of Parliament Mathew Lempurkel over the violence are positive indicators that the Government is slowly coming out of its lethargic state as insecurity mounts in parts of the country.

For nearly a month, counties neighbouring Laikipia; Turkana, West Pokot, Samburu and Baringo have been scenes of bloody bandit attacks that have claimed a dozen lives. Mr Voorspuy was just one unlucky victim of a crime wave.

A sustained public outcry has triggered a security operation. In spite of that or because of that, leaders in the affected counties have offered lukewarm support to the operation; perhaps a signal to gross disconnect that many believe has fanned the violence. There is no denying that politics is at the heart of the matter.

The planning and execution of the attacks, the weapons used and the ease with which the raiders evade police patrols speak of a well-calculated and targetted operation. It discounts the narrative of cattle-rustling as a community pastime, but rather as a criminal endeavour with the sight on the proceeds; nor as a consequence of erratic weather conditions that forces herders to invade private land. No, those are pretexts for commission of capital crime. What we have witnessed requires colossal sums of money, time and resources to plan and execute.

Because land is such a sticky issue, the expiry of land leases has given some the motivation to eject tenants (mostly foreigners) holding leases whose expiry is due. That, and campaigns for the August elections have presented a perfect mix for the systmatic dispossession of private property as politicians jostle for advantage. That ought to be stopped.

To win back public confidence in its duty to protect the public and their property, the Government must act, quickly.

It must stamp its authority and go for the perpetrators of these heinous crimes and ensure there are no sacred cows.